Nick Hallett has been described in one issue of Time Out New York as “ever-compelling vocalist composer” and “invaluable curator of arts programming.” His career is a hybrid of composing, performing, and producing dynamic, sometimes-indescribable culture across media and genre. Trained at Oberlin in vocal performance and linguistics, Hallett’s approach is rooted in music, but fully ventures into new media, live cinema, performance and art.
His original opera, a collaboration with artist Shana Moulton, Whispering Pines 10 (based on her video serial), played at The Kitchen and New Museum of Contemporary Art, and begins to tour nationally in Fall 2011. Hallett held the New Museum’s first RE:NEW RE:PLAY artist residency in May 2009, creating a four-part series connecting the voice to multimedia ritual. His work was included in the 2007 and 2009 Performa biennials, including a commission for futurist ‘noise-intoners’ in a concert at Town Hall. Hallett’s catalog of original songs has been recognized at Joe’s Pub—The Nick Hallett Songbook (2008) and Man in the Matriarchy (2009) among others—performed by esteemed interpreters of the craft. He has been the music director of Earl Dax’s Weimar New York cabaret series, while he concertizes newer work at venues such as ISSUE Project Room, Le Poisson Rouge and The Stone, alongside other contexts—Calder Foundation and Poetry Project recently. Hallett’s electroacoustic music has found its way into the soundtracks of films by A.L. Steiner/A.K. Burns, Matt Wolf, Joshua Thorson, and Tara Mateik among others.
After organizing a concert for the Joshua Light Show at The Kitchen in 2007, Hallett became its music director and producer, collaborating with founder, multimedia artist Joshua White to contextualize his pioneering approach to live cinema for contemporary audiences. Most recently, Hallett composed original music for the project in a 360-degree, fulldome presentation at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium. As a vocalist, Hallett has performed in the operas of Anthony Braxton, Susie Ibarra, and Matthew Welch, among others, while independently pursuing new interpretations of pioneering experimental vocal work by Meredith Monk and Karlheinz Stockhausen (the latter with vocal group Magic Names). His shared interest in the music of Arthur Russell with cellist Alex Waterman has seen multiple concerts, including appearances at The Kitchen and Le Poisson Rouge produced with Wordless Music, leading to further collaboration with many of the musicians who worked with Russell in the 1970s and 80s.
With Zach Layton, Hallett co-directs the Darmstadt new music series at ISSUE Project Room, which has been called “a provocative tweak” by the New York Times for its commitment to presenting rarely heard works from the experimental music canon and its annual performance of Terry Riley’s In C, often finding itself on multiple end-of-year ‘best-of’ lists, including the New York Times and NPR. From 2000 to 2003, he led the band Plantains, a new wave-cabaret act incorporating electronic music and video, collaborating with Ray Sweeten and Seth Kirby, among others. A “Career Retrospective” of this work was released in 2010 on the I, Absentee label.